Russia blames Georgia for swine fever in its south

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia blames Georgia for bringing African Swine Fever (ASF) into Southern Russia, the head of Russian state consumer protection agency Gennady Onishchenko told reporters on Monday.

Onishchenko initiated an injunction banning wine and mineral water imports from Georgia in 2006, two years before the five-day war between two countries.

“ASF came to us from Georgia. First, of course, to Ossetia, and then to the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions. There are signs that this situation is artificially injected,” Rospotrebnadzor head Gennady Onishchenko was quoted as saying by the news agency Interfax.

“It is economic sabotage,” he added.

Relations between Russia and Georgia remain tense nearly four years after they fought a five-day war in August 2008 over the Russian-backed breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moscow and Tbilisi have not restored diplomatic ties and frequently criticize one another.

Russia’s Krasnodar region, near several key Black Sea export ports, has been unable to eliminate African Swine Fever (ASF) for the past three years, Onishchenko said on Monday.

“We must do everything to resist the threat of the further spread of ASF,” he added.

ASF, which was confirmed for the first time in Russia in 2007, has so far been found mainly in the south of the country. However, some outbreaks occurred in northwest regions.

Medium and large Russian pig farms are well protected against ASF, which has no cure, and other diseases.

The virus is most common at small farms and is spread partly by wild boars. It is harmless to humans.

Reporting by Polina Devitt, editing by William Hardy